Hi guys, I hope you are all having a great start to your week so far.
This week I've got an interview with 'The Afolabis'. Ruth Awogbade is the much sought after founder of the magazine Magnify which platforms - Faith - Feminism - Fashion. Ayo Afolabi is a management consultant in the city and a committed youth pastor at his local Church. Ayo and Ruth are on their journey to becoming newly weds 'The Afolabis'. Their website theafolabis.com is all things lifestyle, relationships and purpose, check out the website and subscribe.
In the interview below we explore social media and it's effects on young women, young men and violence as well as 'couple goals'.
I hope you enjoy reading.
Don't forget to share and subscribe!
Why did you start the lifestyle brand? (Where did the inspiration come from?)
Ruth:We’re both people who wear our heart on our sleeves and we love being around people and impacting people. Over the years and particularly with the testimony of our relationship, we realised that we were having lots of one on one conversations/meet-ups with people and realised that actually we wanted to share a lot of what we had learnt and are learning more widely.
Equally, we both are people who are passionate about living life to the full so we wanted to show various aspects of life which for us are encapsulated in our 3 content categories– lifestyle, purpose and relationships.
Ayo: I guess for Ruth and I, we wanted to create a platform that was authentic and relatable to our friends within our individual and collective spheres. For something to be reflective of lifestyle, it had to represent real life, so it was a strong driving force that we are as real as possible with what we convey to our audience. As a couple we are very passionate about people, so for us, we know that we have a specific calling/inspiration for all things “people”! So my inspiration is in essence people, and a desire to see people thrive. If our brand can contribute to that, then we’re doing something right.
What do you look forward to achieving through your lifestyle brand?
Ayo: As I said in the previous post my passion is people, so I hopefully look forward to impacting people in a positive and meaningful way. I want to be able to speak to an impartial observer who comes across a blog article, post, who’s response would be “I really enjoyed this piece” or “that piece was really thought-provoking” or “I really appreciate the clarity and perspective that you have brought to these issues that we all face…”. I’m not saying that I or Ruth will have all the answers, because nobody does and the reality is that we are starting off in the journey of life if you really think about it – we’ve both barely scraped 30! But despite that, we want to contribute by conveying a message that is positive and authentic.
Ruth: Already in the last week, we’ve been so overwhelmed by the response. Both by people seeing how (very lol!) different we are through videos or appreciating the honesty and authenticity in the articles.
Our hope is that people will be inspired, encouraged and entertained – both as individuals (whether that be single/dating/married) and also as couples.
Is this lifestyle brand just for couples or can anyone relate to the topics that will be presented?
Ayo: This brand is definitely NOT limited to couples. Yes, it is true that we are a couple, and we will post on issues relating to couples but we are also individuals and a lot of our blog posts will be on topics that are specific to just the guys, or just the ladies or no gender in particular. It’s important to remember that relationship is at the heart of every interaction between human beings, regardless whether it is romantic relationship or not, and we aim to address “relationships” in its widest sense. So we hope that people will see through our articles and what we write that and post that there is something in our brand for everyone to sink their teeth into.
Ruth: Anyone can relate. Obviously we’re engaged but before then (well for me) I was single for 26 years of my life! Being in a relationship doesn’t define who we are and we talk about a range of issues that affect us all regardless of our relationship status.
As a couple, a very hard working couple - how do you help each other reach personal goals and personal development?
Ayo: I think we both realised pretty early on that we were put into each other’s life as enablers of our respective purposes. One of our strongest assets as a couple is the way with which we complement each other. Ruth brings order and planning to my often insane calendar of activities, and I bring a sense of calm and perspective to Ruth when nerves start to fray. Ruth is the visionary, whilst I am the one who marries that skill to an approach. I’m the extrovert, she’s the introvert so we reel in the excesses of each other in that regard. I think by understanding who we are and what the other person brings into our life and appreciating that dimension, we’re able to grow individually and collectively.
Ruth: We’ve always felt a deep conviction that we were both in each other’s lives to encourage and support each other to reach our God-given destinies. For me, seeing Ayo succeed is even more enjoyable than any success I enjoy personally. Even with the organisation I run, Ayo is my biggest supporter – always encouraging me – especially when things are challenging. Ayo as a person is so supportive and encouraging everyone else but for me from day 1, I’ve always felt a calling to encourage him to discover his passion and what he wants to achieve and encourage him in doing that.
Ayo, who do you look up to? (also who are a few inspirational personalities out there that you would like to sit down & meet one day)
There are many people in life that I can say I have admired from afar and more close up. I have a strong admiration (no cliché intended) for the Obamas as a couple, who have handled their rise with a rarely seen grace. That they are immensely smart and accomplished only makes me further marvel at their humility and their ability to rise above the vitriol at times they have encountered. Say what you will about his record, his politics or his ideology, I do not think that anyone would disagree about the integrity of character that Barack and Michelle Obama have. I’m sure I speak for Ruth when I say that they would make an awesome double date pairing! Closer to home I have to give a special shout out to my Mother. Her strength of character and her determination to push me forward to be who I am today is why we’re even here discussing a lifestyle brand in the first place! She has been a trailblazer that I’m simply following and my passion for people is a genetic one which I got from her, not just a mother to me, but to many. Meet her for 5 minutes and you’d see what I was talking about!
Ruth, who do you look up to? (also who are a few inspirational personalities out there that you would like to sit down & meet one day)
My biggest inspirations are:
Michelle Obama – her poise, dignity, intelligent, grace and from what I can see her ability to be such an incredible wife and mother under such a spotlight.
Serena Williams – Growing up I loved playing tennis. But more than anything, the mental strength and focus to become great I’ve always loved about her.
Angela Ahrendts – My former CEO when I was at Burberry. One of the most incredible women in the world who was able to transform a company with her vision and determination and ability to inspire a whole global organisation to innovate and succeed.
Ayo, what do you have to say to young men who are lost in society? (Who have now turned to crime and violence - what would you like to say to these young men)
The first thing I will not do is say that I know where they are coming from. The last thing a young man in that situation wants to hear is platitudes of solidarity coming from someone who DOESN’T know exactly where they’re coming from. For many of these young men, lost in society, their situation is as a result of society failing them and leaving them with little option but a life a crime. Now I am not condoning violence, but you look at our society and it is an inescapable fact that aspiration and opportunity are bedfellows. The one thing that I would say to such a person is that if society has given up on you, don’t give up on yourself. If society has failed you, don’t fail yourself. Don’t allow the societies portrayal of you to be the one that you let become your reality. I believe that the more we have young men standing and deciding to take a stand for themselves, the less we will see them resorting to the life of crime and violence that seems like the only exit strategy. Of course we must address society’s failings – the recent Grenfell fire is a clear example of this. But we can all still stand up and be counted.
Ruth, What do you have to say to ladies who don't feel valued or beautiful because of the stereotypical- social media definition of 'beautiful'? (how should they define their beauty)
Social media is a curation of life – it isn’t necessarily real life. Whether it be social media, mainstream media, the opinions of others – we shouldn’t let that define who we are or are view of ourselves. As a Christian, I believe that we are all made in the image of God and wow what an amazing blessing that is! I would also say it’s so important to surround yourself with people who encourage you to celebrate who you are and who you were created to be.
Finally, what would you say to encourage and inspire anyone who is at the point of giving up on their goals and dreams?
Ayo: I always say to people that “newness requires pain”. A big failing of our generation is an inability to push through the pain barrier to birth that goal, vision, hope or dream that we have been pregnant with. Nothing new and worth having in this life comes easy. And the most precious commodity – life comes through the pain of labour – so why should it be any different for our hopes and dreams. I would say to anyone out there who is on the point of giving up, that they should keep pushing. Because it’s labour pains that they’re experiencing. That they should keep pushing because labour pains mean newness is round the corner, and “other side” is at hand so choose hope over despair – and let expectation drive you towards the finish line.
Ruth: Recently, I had a meeting that I’d been waiting 6 years for and the way it happened – it could have only been God who orchestrated it. For many of us, social media becomes a tool to use as comparison – we think that everyone’s life is moving forward so quickly in comparison to ours. Good things take time and if deep down we have a conviction that something is right for us, we should never give up regardless of how long it seems like it will take.